Saturday, January 1, 2011

Well, This is Frustrating

I would like very much to use this post as an attack against Oliver Stone for being a propagandist and not your run of the mill "Buy Glutco Brand Cooking Lard" propagandist, but one who has seen fit to present the depredations of pretty awful people though rosy colored glasses.

Specifically, I'm speaking of his film "South of the Border", a delightful hagiography to Venezuela's own ghost whisper, Hugo Chavez.

Here's the rub: I have not seen the movie. I previously had no intention of ever seeing the movie. I truly do not want to subject myself to the insane screechings of a man that runs about the country, digging up the corpses of national heroes for political points when he isn't forcing the economy into an economic oubliette.

Frankly, I'm perfectly content reading a film review written by those die-hard conservative reactionaries at the Village Voice and calling it a day:

And yet Stone raises the specter of media manipulation when it suits him, devoting a whole section of the film to sympathetically presenting Chávez's argument that during the failed coup attempt of 2002, the Venezuelan media were so in the tank for his political opponents that they edited footage of rioting in the streets to make it look as if Chávez's supporters instigated a fire fight. The construction of false realities for political gain is the subject of much of Stone's own work—so why is he content to take each leader's practiced-for-the-camera spiel at face value, never pushing for information or conducting interviews on any deeper level than a photo op? South of the Border's subjects are masters at cooking bullshit, and Stone just eats it up.

The thing is this: Chavez is really, truly awful. Never mind the fact that he's destroying the financial life of Venezuela but everything shows that he intends to carry on doing it for the rest of is life. The Economist comments on events surrounding the recent legislative election in which his party lost heavily:

He has used the final three months of the outgoing assembly, in which he has an overwhelming majority, to render irrelevant the incoming legislature, due to be sworn in on January 5th. The centrepiece of this effort is an enabling law which grants the government the power to rule by decree for the next 18 months.

The assembly’s other functions have been curtailed too. Under a swiftly approved reform of its internal rules, the legislature will now meet as little as four days a month. All parliamentary commissions will be controlled by the government, and speeches to the assembly on any given topic will be limited to a total of 15 minutes per member. Debates will only be transmitted by government television channels, allowing the authorities to gag dissident voices.

In addition, assembly members will henceforth be barred from swapping parties on pain of losing their seat—a measure which suggests that Mr Chávez doubts the loyalty of some of his own supporters. Meanwhile some of the opposition members face judicial persecution. One of their number, José Sánchez, a former police commander, has been sentenced to 19 years in jail for his supposed involvement in a murder, even though the constitution grants assembly members legal immunity.

The new assembly was due to appoint several supreme-court justices to replace those due to retire. Such appointments require a two-thirds majority, and thus would have involved an agreement with the opposition. To circumvent the need for that, the outgoing assembly rushed through the naming of nine new justices (and 32 stand-ins). All are chavista loyalists, and four are retiring assembly members.

I would love...LOVE to hear Oliver Stone's take on this. I would love for him to explain how this has all just been twisted by the American media. Love to. I would love to hear him defend the positions he took with the film but...Well, I simply haven't seen it. Unfortunately, this sort of obligates me towards viewing the damn thing. I can't attack something that I haven't watched or read myself.

You want to know the worst thing about Chavez? Because of him, my Netflix account is going to get all screwed up. I'm going to have to see this moronic screed and next thing you know, my "Films You'll Love" suggestions will be completely out of whack.

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